Salons reopen after three months of mandated shutdown

Preventive measures must be in place as customers return for haircuts

Quarantine haircuts will be a thing of the past as salons in New Jersey reopen after three months, but strict regulations will be in place. 

Weeks after Gov. Phil Murphy’s announcement allowing salons to reopen on June 22,  regulations were released by the N.J. Board of Cosmetology and Attorney General’s Office.

“There’s one part of me that’s so relieved and excited to get back to work,” said Paula Putorti, of Bella Bella Salon in Mantua. “But there’s another part of me as an owner, the responsibility of not infecting people, that weighs heavy on my conscience.” 

Both Putorti and Scott Nicoll, owner of Symetrie Hair Design in Haddonfield, agreed the onus is on them to abide by the state’s regulations or face severe consequences. Guidelines include wearing masks; temperature screenings for both employees and clients; services by appointments only, with no walk-ins; and removal of reusable content like toys and magazines. 

“We’ve asked people to bring just their phones and some form of payment in the salon,” Nicoll explained. “Try to keep your property on your person. If you can leave it in your car or at home, please do so.”

Salons are also required to adhere to state Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on mitigating the spread of COVID-19, with a maximum capacity of 25 percent of a building’s limit.

Parents are urged to remain in their cars or sit outside while their child gets salon services. Children under 2 do not have to wear masks, but accommodation can only be made before the appointment, not upon arrival.

Federal and state health agencies left some rules up to an owner’s discretion, such as blow drying hair and waxing. Kirsten Haydu of Bella Bella said stylists can blow dry hair outside to prevent spit particles within the salon, but the CDC had not ruled out associated risks.  Customers will be asked to remove their masks during facial waxing, but many salons have also paused the service until rules are clearer. Putorti and Nicoll have implemented salon-specific rules, eliminating all blow drying, Keratin or other chemical straightening procedures and going as far as refusing service to anyone who doesn’t wear a mask.

“I don’t think anybody likes being confrontational, and I know it’s not a law, but technically it is as the state passed down a regulation,” Nicoll said. “We must abide by it, you must abide by it. As we make appointments, we are telling people this is what we’re doing and we have signage for it.”

Nicoll has created a legal waiver for all clients to sign, as well as consent for a temperature check.

As many salons opened their doors, there were others whose financial losses during the three-month closure prevented them from ever opening again. Both Nicoll and Putorti said the 6-feet social distancing rule and capacity restrictions have forced salon owners to do business differently.

“We used to be able to knock out two or three people in two hours,” Nicoll shared. “Now, we have one color client getting a color and cut in an hour-and-a-half to two hours because it’s one person in, one person out.”

Sterilization and other cleaning measures are not new to salons. Bella Bella stylist Dennis Morina explained those practices are taught in beauty school and are required for renewal of cosmetology licenses. 

“All of this stuff? It should not be new to people,” Morina added. “Barbicide is taught in beauty school. We were always taught to clean, sanitize and disinfect your items. Always. The only new stuff is temperature checks and air-tight containers.”

Stylists are asking clients to be patient as appointment books fill up.

“It’s going to be such a pleasure to make their (clients) before and after, because there’s so much more of a difference with us being closed,” Haydu mentioned. “Do you know how happy everyone’s going to be when they leave (an appointment)?”